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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Monday, July 28, 2014

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Finishing touches are being applied to the new bar.
Finishing touches are being applied to the new bar.
Old school games decorate the tabletops.
Old school games decorate the tabletops.
Local beers on tap.
Local beers on tap.
Guess which one's the men's and which one's the women's?
Guess which one's the men's and which one's the women's?
Keeping the good Hotch name.
Keeping the good Hotch name.
Additional light boards hang from the ceiling.
Additional light boards hang from the ceiling.
Green 'n' pretty.
Green 'n' pretty.

A sneak peek at The Hotch Spot (formerly Hotch-A-Do)

The Hotch Spot, 1813 E. Kenilworth Pl., formerly Hotch-A-Do, will open to the public tomorrow. I had the chance to chat with Pete Panagos, who is the co-owner of the new venture with Angie Storm, who owned Hotch-A-Do.

"We kept the 'Hotch' in the name to let customers know there's a lot here that's the same, but with a little more spunk, a little more life and really interactive, top-notch – but not corporate – customer service," says Panagos, who formerly managed Cans Bar and Canteen next door to The Hotch and worked in Las Vegas at The Palms.

The new Hotch features a massive bar made from recycled wood, two large televisions and tables with board games laminated to the tops. More light boards now hang from the ceiling, an appealing amount of greenery (with more to come) and new paintings of, ahem, a cat and a rooster on the doors of the restrooms.

The menu has many of the old favorites – including the Hotch hash – along with a new emphasis on grilled items from Bison to veggie burgers. (All of the meat is farm-fed.) There's also a new selection of loaded-style side orders such as Greek fries. The brunch menu will continue to be a huge focus and many of the same soups and sandwiches will still be available.

The Hotch Spot offers four different local beers on tap and a full bar.

"We're as much of a bar as a restaurant," says Panagos.

The Hotch Spot will be open Monday-Friday from 5 p.m. until bar time; Saturday and Sundays from 9 a.m. until bar time. After Summerfest, Panagos says they will open for lunch at 11 a.m. during the week. Live music will occasionally be featured.

Kent Knapp makes the six pack.
Kent Knapp makes the six pack.

Checking in with recently-relocated Milwaukee Blacksmith

Milwaukee Blacksmith recently moved to the Third Ward and it reminded me what a cool local business this is.

Kent Knapp, who currently lives with his family in Bay View, has studied and worked in blacksmithing since he was 19. Milwaukee Blacksmith is a family affair and also involves Knapp's wife, Shannon, and their four children.

Milwaukee Blacksmith creates iron pieces for homes and buildings, inside and out. Some recent achievements for the business include a "Cream of the Cream City" award  for an iron project they created on the East Side's Miller Mansion. Milwaukee Blacksmith also received a Mayoral Design Award for work done on the SoHi building, 760 N. 27th St.

Kent is featured on the recently released Black Iron IPA from Milwaukee Brewing Company. His picture and a QR code on the six-pack lead to a video of Kent at the shop.

"We are also currently filming a documentary with the crew at From-Milwaukee.com," says Shannon. "They are filming Kent and my boys in the shop and Kent on a tour of Milwaukee Ironwork."

The Knapp's three teenaged sons apprentice at the shop, and the oldest, Miles, has his own line of products. They also have a 19-year-old daughter, Zoey, who is a chocolatier, and a fifth child on the way, due in October.

Milwaukee Blacksmith is currently working on projects for Great Lakes Distillery and the Charles Allis Museum. It also plans to offer workshops in the near future and is competing for the Mission:Small Business grant that's offering a $250,000 prize.

Read more...
Make a geyser spray at the new Betty Brinn exhibit.
Make a geyser spray at the new Betty Brinn exhibit.
"Snorkel" like it's Hawaii.
"Snorkel" like it's Hawaii.
"Weebles Coast-To-Coast" runs through Sept. 16, 2012.
"Weebles Coast-To-Coast" runs through Sept. 16, 2012.

Slightly surprised by new Weebles' exhibit

As soon as I got over the fact actual Weebles – you know, the roly-poly toy that wobbles but doesn't fall down – were not a part of the new exhibit at the Betty Brinn Children's Museum, "Weebles Coast To Coast," I really enjoyed the time I spent there with my kids.

I admit it, I thought there would be retro and new school Weebles included in the exhibit, and I would be able to, once and for all, make them wobble AND fall down. However, the exhibit is sponsored by Hasbro (the makers of Weebles) and is "touched with the humor, music and 'don't fall down spirit' of Weebles."

However, despite the lack of rounded-bottomed weebly toys, the exhibit really is cool. It has more than 70 hands-on exhibits that highlight the nation's beautiful geography and favorite pastimes. For example, our favorite parts were the climb-inside Luray Cavern representing the one in Virginia; and the tribute to Louisiana's Preservation Hall station as well as the chance to "kayak" in Idaho.

There's also a mini climbing wall in tribute to Mount Ranier in Washington and a chance to "snorkel" in Hawaii.

Like every exhibit I have ever been to at Betty Brinn, this one's a winner. It's cute, smart, interactive and really engages the kids. It runs through Sept. 16.

Check it out but remember: the plastic egg-shaped toys are in your memories, maybe in your parents' attics, maybe in your kids toy collections as new school versions, but not in this exhibit. (OK, clearly I'm still a little sad about this).

red.bar is undergoing a massive remodel.
red.bar is undergoing a massive remodel.

Here comes red.bar

Carrie Wisniewski and Nick Schell plan to open red.bar in mid-to-late July in the St. Francis space that was formerly Cool Water and before that Madjecki's.

Initially, it will open as a bar, but Wisniewski says she hopes to have the kitchen up and running this fall. "The kitchen will serve unique pub fare and an amazing homemade fish fry," says Wisniewski.

The decor will include Wisconsin beer signs, vintage Wisconsin sports items and vintage motorcycle relics. (Both Wisniewski and Schell ride Harleys.) Also, red.bar will have a game room and live, local music.

"We want to bring some of the vibe and pride of Walker's Point to the far South Side. We also plan to have all Wisconsin beers on tap," says Wisniewski. "It is going to be a place that pays tribute to Wisconsin – the state that we both love so much."